Denis Dyack (born July 14, 1966) is the former president of Canada-based video game developer Silicon Knights, and is a video game designer, writer, director and producer. Dyack directed the production of Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain and Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem, and was inducted into the Canadian Gaming Hall of Fame by the Canadian Game Development Talent Awards in November 2011.
Early life and education
Dyack graduated with a Bachelor of Physical Education Degree from Brock University. A H.BSc in Computer Science from Brock University and a Master of Science (Computer Science) from the University of Guelph.
Dyack cofounded Silicon Knights in 1992 and the company's early games were developed for DOS, Atari ST and Amiga computers, transitioning to console development in 1996 with Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain for the original PlayStation. In 1998, Silicon Knights partnered as a second party with Nintendo to develop Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem for the Nintendo 64 console. The game was upgraded to become one of the earlier titles to release on the Nintendo Gamecube. A subsequent partnership between Nintendo, Konami and Silicon Knights led to the Gamecube release of Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes.
I think gamers can expect what they normally expect from us, even a bit more. The relationship with Microsoft is going to create something very unique ... People will notice that we're consistent with our games, but will also be very excited with where we're taking it. With some of the directions that our very radical and very exciting. We can't wait to talk about it, it's just not the time yet ... They [Sega] understand that we want to do bigger and better games with higher production values. Sega seems to really get it.
Shortly after the partnership with Microsoft, Silicon Knights announced that Too Human, a game originally conceived for the Sony PlayStation, would be coming to Microsoft's Xbox 360 console as a planned trilogy. The game, dramatically reworked from the original concept, married the ideas of Norse mythology with high technology. The company was subject to a successful countersuit from Epic Games in May 2012 over the development of games using Epic's Unreal Engine 3, and the latter was awarded US $4.45 million in damages. Silicon Knights was also ordered to destroy all copies of existing titles using the engine, as well as in-development games The Sandman, Siren in the Maelstrom and The Box/Rytualist.
In 2013, Silicon Knights was involved in a dispute with Ontario's Federal Economic Development Agency, after it received a 2010 loan of around US$4 million for the development of a new mainstream video game that would create more than 65 jobs. Repayment was scheduled for 2013, but Ontario government officials refused to disclose any information to the media.
Shortly after Silicon Knights filed a new appeal in the Epic Games case, the closure of the company was announced in the media in May 2013. A source informed the Polygon publication that most of the company's employees were laid off in mid-2012 and Dyack formed a new company, Precursor Games, with a core group of ex-Silcon Knights employees at around the same time. At the time of the announcement, Silicon Knights had not filed for bankruptcy and the studio's chief financial officer, Mike Mays, insisted that the studio was "definitely alive."
Following the closure of Silicon Knights, Dyack became the chief creative officer at Precursor Games. Dyack announced the change on Silicon Knights' forums:
It has been a very long time ... I am sorry I was away so long, it was not intended and I truly regret that I could not interact more with you all. I wanted to do so but it simply was not an option for me at the time. I really hope you can understand. As most of you already probably have seen, I am no longer at Silicon Knights and I joined Precursor Games some time ago ... I look forward to seeing what we can accomplish with the community and our crowd sourcing campaigns. I do see that some people are disappointed at the way things turned out, so was I and many others, believe me.
The video game website Kotaku published an article by Australian journalist Andrew McMillen in October 2012, entitled "What Went Wrong With Silicon Knights' X-Men: Destiny?" McMillen's story covered allegations from anonymous sources that Dyack mistreated employees and embezzled funds. McMillen sought out responses from Dyack but none of the members of Silicon Knights' management team responded to his request for comment at the time.
During the Kickstarter campaign for Shadow of the Eternals in May 2013, Dyack was asked to respond to the article by Precursor CEO Paul Caporicci. A video was created directly addressing the allegations published by Kotaku.
In a July 2005 interview, Dyack revealed his perspective on the future of large-scale multiplayer online games:
I really want a story, really want to find out what's happening, have an experience. Rather than just trying to get to the next level. I think in the future, when bandwidth becomes less of an issue, multi-player games and single-player games will start to merge. Whether it's cooperative or competitive, there will be an online component to most everything. The future of hardware is no hardware.
Accolades and awards
Dyack is a member of the Peter Drucker Society and the board of the Entertainment Software Association of Canada. In 2011, Dyack was inducted into the Canadian Game Developers Hall of Fame. Dyack was awarded the Outstanding Achievement in Character or Story Development by Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences for his work on Eternal Darkness.
- "Denis Dyack: The Video Game Renaissance". The Games Institute. University of Waterloo.
- Brian Crecente (9 May 2013). "Silicon Knights unloads property, closes office, continues battle with Epic Games". Polygon. Vox Media Inc. Retrieved 6 July 2014.
- Chris Kohler (26 July 2005). "Interview: Silicon Knights' Denis Dyack Goes 360". Gamasutra. UBM Tech. Retrieved 6 July 2014.
- Griffin McElroy (30 May 2012). "Epic Games wins lawsuit against Silicon Knights, awarded $4.45 Million". Polygon. Vox Media Inc. Retrieved 6 July 2014.
- Brian Crecente. "Silicon Knights unloads property, closes office, continues battle with Epic Games". Polygon.
- Steve Farrelly (29 October 2012). "Silicon Knights Strips to Five or so Employees, Former Members Open Up on Poor X-Men: Destiny Development and Eternal Darkness 2". Ausgamers. AusGamers™ Pty Ltd. Retrieved 6 July 2014.
- Andrew McMillen (26 October 2012). "What Went Wrong With Silicon Knights' X-Men: Destiny?". Kotaku. Kotaku. Retrieved 6 July 2014.
- Dyack, Denis. "Response to Kotaku". youtube.
- Jared Rea. "Dennis Dyack says nay to the enthusiast press, again". Joystiq.
- Philip Kollar. "Dyack on 1UP Yours: Forums Need Reform". 1UP.com.
- "Sword & Sworcery EP Wins Big At Canadian Game Development Talent Awards". Gamasutra. November 3, 2011.
- "The Games Institute". https://uwaterloo.ca/games-institute/news/denis-dyack-video-game-renaissance. Waterloo University.